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Topic: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

For my money, every Bond novel is in most respects superior to its film adaptation. (Though this is, admittedly, the exact opposite of the view that I took as a child.) That having been said, I DO feel that every EON film has "tidied up" some part of Fleming's narrative in a positive manner.
The following is a list of ways which I consider this to have been done. (N.B. For the purpose of the exercise I am using only film adaptations of novels, disregarding short story compilations & films which are not based on stories by Fleming.)
*CR: The film makes a better job of masking Vesper's status as a double agent,which makes Bond's failure to pick up on that fact more comprehensible. In addition, Vesper co-operating with their adversaries in return for Bond's life being spared seems more plausible than a SMERSH agent abstaining from killing him simply because he has not been explicitly ordered to do so.

*LALD: Making Mr Big's primary source of revenue Heroin rather than Bloody Morgan's treasure haul, neatly sidesteps the question of how Mr Big gained access to that treasure in the first place.

*MR: Yes, even this film manages at least one minor improvement.By placing Drax's base of operations outside of the U.K., It explains SIS' involvement in a way that Fleming's contrived piece of hokum whereby the Security Service "don't have anybody who speaks German well enough" for this mission.(!) fails to do with any conviction.

*DAF: In the book when Wint & Kidd attack Tiffany in her cabin,Bond  ties some sheets together,lowers himself down the outside of the hull from the deck above,manages to open a porthole from the exterior, enter through said porthole, AND somersault across the floor, then draw, https://www.reference.com/pets-animals/male-chicken-c and aim his weapon so fast that Wint & Kidd do not have time to react.
In the film: Bond is already in the cabin with her. A far more plausible scenario.

FRWL:In the film Bond's room mysteriously being transferred to the Bridal Suite is given a satisfactory explanation. (Listening devices have been planted in his original room in the certain knowledge that he will discover them)The disparity between the way Grant presents & what he claims to be at least arouse Bond's suspicions (in the book he invents an elaborate back story in his own head to account for this) Rosa Klebb approaches Bond & Tatiana at the climax disguised as a chambermaid. In the book he approaches her having been well briefed on where she will be & what she looks like then has a (near fatal) moment of hesitation where he doubts that she is a Soviet agent simply because he doesn't think she looks like one.
*DN:Dispensing with all the nonsense with the giant squid was an excellent idea.
*GF:Goldfinger's plan to irradiate, rather than steal, the gold is more believable.Giving Goldfinger his own private jet makes more sense than the very elaborate hijack scheme of the book.
Pussy's Lesbianism being erased from the story & the consensual nature of her first sexual encounter with Bond side steps one of the most downright obtuse ideas that Fleming ever published.
*TB: Lippe's elimination taking place out in the countryside, rather than outside SIS Headquarters, makes more sense of Bond (& SIS') under reaction. Dispensing with the Submarine is also a good idea given that it adds little to the story & slows down the pace.
*TSWLM:A pair of gangsters are given the job of murdering a young woman all alone in an isolated motel then burning it down as part of an insurance fraud. As if that's not enough they decide that they are going to rape her first.All of the above intentions fail to happen because James Bond, quite literally, just happens to be passing at the time. Though not a great fan of the film I hold in its favour that at least the whole thing doesn't hinge on a single implausible coincidence like this.
*OHMSS: Very little improvement, other than the fact that it cuts down slightly on all the toing & froing of the book.
*YOLT:In the book when being briefed on his mission for Tanaka,  the couple he describes to Bond answer Blofeld & Bunt's description, they entered Japan very shortly after their last known sighting,from their last known whereabouts & have an M.O which is similar to that of Blofeld & Bunt.
In spite of all of the above it never seems to occur to Bond that it might actually be Blofeld & Bunt.For all its excesses at least the film dispenses with that.
In addition it is made clear that Bond's printed obituary is intended to be a disinformation exercise. The book's version is (to be charitable) extremely ambiguous.
*TMWTGG: Bond has been captured, brainwashed & turned.On a mission for the Soviets,he attempts to assassinate M. He is sent for relatively short term convalescence & then reactivated. The film, very sensibly, omits all of the above.
Any others?

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Seahawk wrote:

*OHMSS: Very little improvement, other than the fact that it cuts down slightly on all the toing & froing of the book.

Blofeld's kidnapping of Tracy is a sensible addition to the original, giving both Bond and Draco personal reasons to assail Piz Gloria.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Seahawk wrote:

*GF:Pussy's Lesbianism being erased from the story & the consensual nature of her first sexual encounter with Bond side steps one of the most downright obtuse ideas that Fleming ever published.

I think it's been a much debated point as to exactly how much of Pussy's lesbianism is erased. It's certainly hinted at, but there was no way the censors of that time would let it go any further.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Barbel wrote:
Seahawk wrote:

*OHMSS: Very little improvement, other than the fact that it cuts down slightly on all the toing & froing of the book.

Blofeld's kidnapping of Tracy is a sensible addition to the original, giving both Bond and Draco personal reasons to assail Piz Gloria.

True enough. And an embarrassing oversight on my part.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Seahawk wrote:

*DAF: In the book when Wint & Kidd attack Tiffany in her cabin,Bond  ties some sheets together,lowers himself down the outside of the hull from the deck above,manages to open a porthole from the exterior, enter through said porthole, AND somersault across the floor, then draw, https://www.reference.com/pets-animals/male-chicken-c and aim his weapon so fast that Wint & Kidd do not have time to react.
In the film: Bond is already in the cabin with her. A far more plausible scenario.

Plausible isn't usually a word associated with the film of DAF- you may have hit on a first! ajb007/smile. I'd have to say that I prefer Fleming's take on this whole sequence to the weak slapstick of the cinematic version.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

The Fort Knox scheme in Goldfinger I think. The film improves on it, and even pokes fun at it.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

I think that by omitting the incident where Bond almost got blasted to bits by 2 Bulgarian assassins in CR, Eon did improve upon the book. When I read the novel, I always had the feeling that Bond escaping death by pure luck (he was shielded by a tree) and the incompetence of the assassins (who detonated the bomb prematurely), coupled with the fact that he was rescued later in the story by a SMERSH killer who shot Le Chiffre, painted an unflattering image of Bond as more of a lucky chap than a skilled agent.

On the other hand, I wish that CR the movie had kept Bond's spectacular first kill as described in the book, where he shot a Japanese cipher expert in the RCA building with a sniper's rifle (through a hole that a colleague had blasted in the thick window with his own shot!). That is way more stylish than either of the 2 kills that the movie featured in the PTS.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Eliminating Goldfinger's impulse to appropriate Bond and Tilly Masterson for secretarial duties was a wise choice. On the other hand it's too bad she was bumped off so early.

And while the crux of DN's chapter "The Long Scream" was included in the movie, the giant squid wouldn't have fit in the context of the picture. Would the guano demise been appropriate, I wonder?

One thing they didn't improve on was putting Honeychile in a bikini. (Yes, I'm bad) ajb007/biggrin

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Showing Jill Masterton's death in GF, rather than hearing it second hand is an improvement.

Not sure the movie CR outcome is that plausible, where the villains spare Bond because of Vesper. Do find that confusing; couldn't they have done that first anyway, having Bond dowload the money into Vesper's account? I don't know, makes my head hurt that film.

Of course, Scaramanga is more menacing in the film. The transformation in The Spy Who Loved Me of Slugger's submerged crashed car in the lake is improved by the submarine Lotus....  ajb007/wink

The Aston Martin DB5 is better than the DB2...  ajb007/lol

"This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

Roger Moore 1927-2017

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

In the book Bond drives a DB III;)

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Bond's escape from the rocket exhaust blast in MR was slightly better handled in the film. In the novel, Bond and Gala hid in a bathtub with the water running, but for the life of me, I couldn't quite understand why the offices were attached to the silo. Admittedy, in the film Drax had what looked like a conference room under Moonraker's exhaust vents, but the furniture stowed itself away before the launch.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

The film FYEO borrowed the keelhauling sequence from LALD, and, I think, handled it better.  In the novel Bond and Solitaire just luck out when Mr. Big's yacht explodes, thus freeing them; but in the film Bond actually uses his wit and ingenuity to free himself and Melina.

Vox clamantis in deserto

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Is it Masterton or Masterson?

In the book it's the former, this can be rather confusing when literary references use the alternate spelling.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Alex wrote:

Is it Masterton or Masterson?

In the book it's the former, this can be rather confusing when literary references use the alternate spelling.

It's just a typo- when Richard Maibaum was writing his screenplay for GF, he inadvertently mistyped the name as Masterson rather than Masterton. It was never corrected.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Barbel wrote:
Alex wrote:

Is it Masterton or Masterson?

In the book it's the former, this can be rather confusing when literary references use the alternate spelling.

It's just a typo- when Richard Maibaum was writing his screenplay for GF, he inadvertently mistyped the name as Masterson rather than Masterton. It was never corrected.

The different spelling really sticks out when listening to the audio version of the GF novel, which I thought at first was some sort of British inflection.

"...the purposeful slant of his striding figure looked dangerous, as if he was making quickly for something bad that was happening further down the street." -SMERSH on 007 dossier photo, Ch. 6 FRWL.....

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Hardyboy wrote:

The film FYEO borrowed the keelhauling sequence from LALD, and, I think, handled it better.  In the novel Bond and Solitaire just luck out when Mr. Big's yacht explodes, thus freeing them; but in the film Bond actually uses his wit and ingenuity to free himself and Melina.

Hardyboy, it's been a while since I've read LALD but didn't Bond plant the bomb on Mr. Big's ship and was trying to survive the keelhauling long enough until the whole thing blew up?  If so, I wouldn't say it was just luck that they escaped.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

It's been a while since I read LALD myself, but you're right.  I remember Bond planting the limpet mine, and I probably used the wrong expression in saying he "lucked out."  Still, I think the FYEO take was better, since Bond did indeed use his wits to escape and didn't just wait for the bomb to free him.  There: how's that? ajb007/biggrin

Vox clamantis in deserto

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

I feel that the early films in particular 'fleshed out' some elements of Bonds character and psyche from hints in the novels. I'm thinking in particular of that insolent/rebellious streak in Bond that Connerry handeled so well, and that continued through Lazenby & Daltons portayals, and has again been picked up with Craig.
It's definatley 'there' in the novels to be built upon, but less developed (or more subtle depending upon your point of view). This finds expression in the Bond/M relationship of the films, which I feel is more nuanced and less Hegelian Master/slave than the novels ( Bernard Lee's performance was a big factor in this)as was the Bond/Q relationship " pay attention 007" & all that)

For me this adds up to making Bond less of a Cipher, and adds a kind of weight which makes it easier for us (or me at any rate)to identify with what could have been interpreted as a kind of Bulldog Drummond/ queen & coutry 'little Englander' in less sensitive hands.

There are many other ways in which the films have fallen far short of th novels, but in this respect I think they did/have added something of value.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

Alex wrote:

Eliminating Goldfinger's impulse to appropriate Bond and Tilly Masterson for secretarial duties was a wise choice.

I thought that part of the book was so ridiculous, it affected my ability to enjoy the rest of it.  Also would like to mention that the movie version where Bond talks his way out of laser-castration is absolutely brilliant.  (And much more believable than Goldfinger suddenly deciding to keep Bond alive as a scretary!)

GF is the one movie I feel is better than the Fleming novel.  The book has way too many plotholes which EON cleverly fixed.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

rennervision wrote:
Alex wrote:

Eliminating Goldfinger's impulse to appropriate Bond and Tilly Masterson for secretarial duties was a wise choice.

I thought that part of the book was so ridiculous, it affected my ability to enjoy the rest of it.  Also would like to mention that the movie version where Bond talks his way out of laser-castration is absolutely brilliant.  (And much more believable than Goldfinger suddenly deciding to keep Bond alive as a scretary!)

GF is the one movie I feel is better than the Fleming novel.  The book has way too many plotholes which EON cleverly fixed.

Plot holes and implausible scenarios aside, I think the novel is all-star writing. Everything leading to and including Bond's wish to die in the pressure room is awesome top-notch Fleming. ajb007/smile

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

When I read GF, I found the first two thirds to be outstanding Fleming, but as I got into the final third I did find myself thinking that the film had done it better. I should give it another read though.

I'm unsure whether I would call it an improvement or not - but the addition of SPECTRE into the mix in FRWL added a new slant on the book which worked really well indeed.

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Re: Ways in which EON improved upon Fleming?

I agree, Barbel.  I think DAF and MR are the two most heinous "adaptations" of Fleming's work put on screen.  I tried watching both films recently.  I got about an hour into DAF, but  couldn't even make it past MR's pre-title sequence.